SBS - Join In Shoot by Luke Griffiths

July and August 2014 was certainly a period of doing things very fast, and very last minute. At about the time I was wrapping up post production on the Together Forever video clip, Melinda Tupling and I made the decision to go for broke with another competiiton being hosted in the Genero website. This competition was to create a short, one minute, promotional video for SBS’ ‘Join In’ campaign which had the tagline: ‘Without our differences, we wouldn’t be the same.” This was a project that Mel and I had been nutting over for a while, but hadn’t really managed to lock down any specific direction, that was until Melinda had a flash of inspiration and came up with the core concept of the video: 'A group of people from various cultural backgrounds stand on a beach looking out over the ocean from where they’ve come, together they turn toward the country, link hands and walk into the future. Leaving footprints in the sand.'

I liked the concept and leapt straight into the process of converting this concept into something visual, something tangible. Melinda and I worked quite closely together in this process, working as Co-Directors and Co-Producers. I wrote up the vision script and converted that into a shotlist so that I knew exactly what we were going to need to get on the day. Mel and I split the production tasks so that she would find and organise all the actors for the shoot, whilst I organised the overall runsheet, schedules, call sheets and location. All of this happened in a period that lasted just over a week; one Saturday we decided to go ahead with the project; the following Sunday we were shooting it.

In the end I figured we’d require about two hours of shooting time during between the hours of 16:00 and 18:00. This positioned the sun so that it was behind our actors, giving them beautiful backlight, as well as creating some very dramatic, backlit clouds and some epic flares! The drawback of shooting like this was that it meant we had a very short amount of time to shoot about fourty shots, so speed was of the essence. The actors all had their make-up done off-site, and we all rocked up on location at approximately 15:30 to begin shooting at 16:00.

As speed was such a crucial factor there were a few considerations I made in terms of the gear I used. Firstly, as I knew there was going to be a number of people with hugely varying skin tones, as well as a bright backlit sky, and not much time to finesse the lighting of the subjects I decided to use Sony’s PMW-F55 (provided by Location Equipment Pty Ltd.) I have had a bit of experience with this camera, and I knew that it’s 16-Bit RAW image could handle the huge differences in luminance between the beach, the ocean and the various skin tones of the actors. In order to conserve space and keep the high frame rate options open I decided to shoot the project in 2K as opposed to its native 4K resolution, this gave me about 128 minutes worth of recording time at 50fps per 512GB AXS Card, which was more than enough. I shot the project in the cameras S-Gamut 3 color space, and monitored using the standard Rec709 LUT. I have to admit, whilst I was filming the shoot I was basically just exposing for the actors skin tones, and then trusting the camera to be recording enough information for me to rescue the beach and sky in the grade, as all I could see in my viewfinder was a big field of overexposed white behind the subjects. Well I am glad to say that I was able to recover all of those highlights in the grade as the latitude of the F55’s RAW is just incredible.

However, there were a number of things I did do in order to make the camera’s life a bit easier. To shape the lighting and provide a backlight lest the sun drifted behind the clouds whilst shooting I brought along the ever trusty Creamsource Doppio Mini. This was run entirely off block battery and was used primarily as a rim light with CTO on it to replicate the look of the setting sun. This was coupled with one piece of poly to provide a soft fill on the actor’s faces. However there were a few times where we (Ruben Pracas, may camera assistant/gaffer, and I) moved the Creamsource in front of the actors to act as a nice warm keylight. This light was an absolutely indispensable part of my kit for this shoot as it allowed me to light quickly and efficiently with a minimum of hassle, and a punch that could not be matched by any other battery powered lights. In terms of lenses I used the trust Canon 24-70mm EF zoom, which was attached to the F55 via the Optitek EF to FZ adaptor, and in front of the lens the only filtration that I used was a single polariser. Due to the deadly combination of possible inclement weather and salt water from the ocean I invested in some strips of plastic that I used to weather proof the camera. This isn’t a process I’m particularly familiar with, however I feel that the hour of work it took prepping the camera I had it at a point where it could have poured torrentially from the sky and the camera would have stayed dry, which is really good for my insurance premiums!

So in approximately two hours of work, we managed to get all the shots we need, and very exhausted we retreated for the evening. In order to recoup our energy for editing the following day, in order to have the project completed for submission that Friday...


SBS - Join In 'Peoples Choice' Competition by Luke Griffiths

This video is one that I Co-Directed, Shot and Edited with longtime collaborator, Melinda Tupling for a competition hosted by SBS. It is based on a concept by Melinda which we developed into this fully fledged video together. I am super happy with how it turned out. We have been waiting diligently for the results to be announced, however it appears there's now a twist, SBS have just opened up a People's Choice Award for the videos, and the winner will win an extra $1000.00.

This video has been chosen as one of 9 finalists, and I would just love it if you could please head on over to the competition page and vote for video number 7 by either tweeting it, or recommending it on Facebook via the prompts at the bottom of the video. Also sharing it works too, there's a little share button on the left of the video!

The link is:
http://www.sbs.com.au/programs/join-in/article/2014/09/08/join-film-7


Together Forever Shoot by Luke Griffiths

Initially the Together Forever music video was a project I didn't even really want. I had a busy schedule at the time and the idea of doing a project with a two week turn around wasn't particularly appealing. However I did like the song and in listening to it I managed to conjure up a devilishly humorous little idea of dark comedy, plus I really needed practice with my pitch writing. Well, lo and behold my pitch ended up getting chosen. So there I was, with an idea, a budget, and just over two weeks to plan and execute it.

Time was of the essence so I pulled on team members who I'd worked with previously and had developed agood rapport with. Between Melinda Tupling (Production Designer), Jennifer Ellis (Make-Up Artist), Una Kristindottir (Production Assistant), Evie Tymms (Actress) and Mark Williams (Actor) was enough past working experience that I knew I was in good hands. The only new comer to the crew was our camera assistant, Arthur Bienkowski, who, as well as having a huge amount of experience on big productions, was just a very nice guy and a great boon to the morale of the set. The team was so good that I probably have just gone to sleep on set and the outcome probably wouldn't have been much different.

In a visual sense I wanted the music video to look both beautiful and glamorous in order to offset the rather dark on screen content. I wanted strong colours and golden hues. This was achieved with a variety of methods. Firstly through Melinda Tuplings brilliant production and costume design which, in conjunction with Jennifer Ellis' gorgeous hair and makup, portrayed a sense of 50's era innocence. The second way I worked to achieve this intended look was during my location recce at Gnangara forest I used an application on my phone called sun seeker to track the path of the sun, which allowed me to keep the sun always at the characters' backs.

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A selection of reference images.

A selection of reference images.

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Once everything was locked in we headed down to Gnangara Pine Forest to begin shooting. Somehow amongst a week of rain and storms we managed to get a perfect sunny day, which made everything look absolutely gorgeous. This fact was especially good news considering the importance of a visible setting sun in one of the sequences.

In order to get the quality of image I was looking for I decided to shoot the film on the Red Epic camera (provided by Location Equipment) at 4KHD, with 8:1 compression. Shooting RAW at 4K gave me a lot of flexibility when it came to post production in order to achieve the specific look I was going for. So I knew exactly what I was getting in camera I set up a look profile in Red Cine Pro and loaded that onto the camera before the shoot. This step was especially important due to the fact that I was planning on using a low contrast filter (Ultra Con 4) for the entire shoot. The reason I did this was because I have personally never been a huge fan of the way that the Red Epic rendered skin tones, and I had seen other cinematographers, such as Denson Baker, who had got great results out of the camera by utilising this filter. Upon using it I absolutely loved the way the filter affected the image, it soften the Red's hard edges and flared in really beautiful ways.

We had to work very fast in order to get all the shots I wanted so I stripped the rest of the ancillary gear back to only the barebones. I used only one lens: the Canon L-Series 24-70mm Zoom; two lights: the Creamsource Mini Doppio LED light, the Socanland 1'x1' LED Panel; and a green screen. I mostly made use of the natural forest light, but offset it with the Creamsource as a back light with a full CTO in order to maintain visual consistency with shots earlier in the video clip that featured a heavy amount of orange from the setting sun.

We made use of the Greenscreen and the otther LED light for the opening driving scene. I made the decision early on to shoot the driving against a greenscreen rather than make our cast actually drive because I felt it was going to be to dangerous to drive the vehicle and act as required. This seemed like a good idea up until the car arrived and found out that it was almost a perfect chroma green! However with some creative framing and great work from Richard Wals, my local VFX boffin, we were able to make it work.

Despite a great day of shooting the really special moment was to come right at the end. This was when we shot the scene I had basically planned the rest of the shoot around: the scene where our leads play and kiss in, front of the setting sun. I had timed and planned the shoot so that the sun would be right behind our characters during the scene. This was the only time where I dropped the Ultracon filter and just let the beautiful golden sun shine straight into the lens, creating some absolutely beautiful golden flares. I was so happy for the 30 minutes or so we had together scene down as no matter what I did everything just looked gorgeous!

Once this scene was shot all that was left was to shoot driving plates before packing up, feeling happy, but exhausted from a fantastic day of shooting. The shoot really couldn't have gone better. Sometimes tight deadlines are a boon to the creative process, because it forces you to just get out there and do it, no faffing about!


SBS - 'Celebrate Australian diversity' Submission by Luke Griffiths

Co-Produced, Directed and made by Melinda Tupling and I, our submission to the SBS - 'Celebrate Australian diversity' is officially submitted and viewable to the whole world! Conceived, planned and contracted in just under two weeks this video has truly grown into something wonderful. Here's hoping we do well in the competition!

Chaise Longue - Together Forever Music Video Released by Luke Griffiths

Who says you can't write, shoot, edit and complete a music video in just over two weeks? Well here's the proof you can! Sure it was a bit of a slog to get everything together so quickly, but it came together magnificently. Between the excellent art design, fantastic performances, great location, perfect day and sublime song, I think we managed to pull out a right corker! I'm incredibly impressed with everyone involved, and incredibly happy with the final product. So without further ado here's the music video!

If you'd like to check out Chaise Longue you can check out their Facebook Page.

'Alter Bridge - Lover' Results by Luke Griffiths

Well, the results of Genero's Music Video Competition for Alter Bridge's song Lover, have finally come in and - drum roll - ManWithRock Productions' version of the music video was not chosen as the official music video. However, we were selected as finalists, which is pretty damn awesome in its own right. I mean, don't get me wrong, it would have been great to win, but at least I can rest easy in the fact that the judges thought the video was of a high enough quality to show it to the band, and Alter Bridge have now officially watched a piece of work I have produced.

However, this is not the end for the video as I have now put it up onto Genero's Video Marketplace for $2500.00. So hopefully someone will come along and decided they like the video enough to buy and use it for a song of their own. I can also resubmit it into other projects presented on the site!

Well if you'd like to take a look at the winner and other finalists please follow this link.

Community Announcement Z Indiegogo Campaign by Luke Griffiths

The brainchild of writer/director Melinda Tupling, Community Announcement Z is a zany zombie comedy (Zomcom) that addresses the very real issues of coal seam fracking in Western Australia. The project is raucously fun, and will be something with huge entertainment value! However, in order to make it through the expense of post-production and onto the world festival circuit we are running an Indiegogo Campaign to raise funds.

I am involved with this project as both the Director of Photography and Editor. I'll probably also pull a double shift as the colourist, and sound designer, but either way I am super excited to be part of the project. In terms of shooting I have never worked on something so improvisational, when Melinda told me we were going to be working very documentary style she meant it; albeit a documentary where we can do multiple takes. It was my first go working with the Canon 5D, and while it took a little getting used to I actually quite enjoyed the experience, especially when I was able to use Location  Equipment's 5D Mk.III. I'd heard a lot of bad things about the camera, but the truth is it worked exactly as it needed to and with a set of E-Series Zooms the image looked fantastic!

I am excited to get this project into the edit suite and cut it into the piece of zany entertainment it has the potential to be, but before that can happen we need to get funds in order to make it happen; to finish off the final pieces of filming and push it into the edit suite. If you're interested please have a look at the Indiegogo Campaign; if you have the cash please chip in, or if not just sharing it will help spread this film like a plague of zombies, marching to the apocalypse.

Alter Bridge - Lover Music Video by Luke Griffiths

Alter Bridge are a band I have loved for ages. Ever since their 2004 debut release 'One Day Remains'  I have called myself a fan. In fact you could say I was a fan of theirs even before that, way back to their Creed days. I know it's not exactly cool to refer to yourself as Creed fan these days, but I was one. So when they broke up I was heart broken, but from the ashes a better band was born. Bearing that in mind I'm sure you can understand that I was pretty excited when I heard they were running a competition to make the official music video for their song 'Lover' on Genero.tv.

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The next step in this process was to figure out a good idea; a story to set the song to. Knowing I didn't have the crutch of performance video to break up the song I absolutely had to come up with a compelling story for the audience to follow. What followed next was two weeks of listening to pretty much nothing, but this one song. Over and over again to the point I was pretty sure I'd burnt a hole in the HDD segment it was stored on (that's how they work, right?) Once I felt I had a good idea, and a compelling linear sequence of events, I wrote the script and sent it out to some long time collaborators. I managed to enlist the help of Una Blake (Make-Up Artist, Production Designer); Melinda Tupling (Production Designer,  Production Assistant); Kallan Gerard (Camera Assistant); Paul Boucher (Older Man); Anthony Ciccotosto (Younger Man); Evelyne Tymms (Woman); and I took part as the Director of Photography, Editor and Director. I have worked with all these massively talented people in the past and I knew they could do great work under pressure; bringing a lot of inherent production value to the project.

What followed next was a pretty gruelling day of shooting. I had chosen some pretty spectacular, yet isolated locations to film. The first being the Red Hill National Park, and the second is Bell's Rapids; both are located in the Swan Valley. This isolation meant we all had to walk about twenty minutes to each location, and coupling this with the fact that the script called for one of our characters to drag a great big rock up the side of the hill meant things didn't really run to schedule as well as I'd hoped. Oh, and rain: that wonderful purveyor of exterior shooting definitely worked to slow us down. To be honest the rain was actually pretty good to us, we didn't have any torrential downpours, and some brilliant water proofing on behalf of our excellent camera assistant meant that the light showers that dogged us didn't do much to slow us down. Well we eventually made it, three hours behind schedule, but between the locations, the excellent make-up and production design of Una and Mel, and our fantastic actors the footage looked grand! All three and a half hours of it...

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Then comes the edit. Well it wasn't a particularly difficult edit; my penchant for cutting exactly to the rhythm of the music meant there were a lot of cuts - which takes quite a lot of time - however it all went relatively smoothly. Over the course of two days I edited three and half hours of footage down into a five and a half minute music video. Due to the fast and rugged shooting style I and adopted I had over three hundred discrete shots to make use of within the music video, and I'm pretty sure I used damn near all of them.

Another thing that helped was my familiarity with the Sony NEX-FS700 and its version of the AVCHD codec. I knew that the codec was actually quite robust and flexible and I would be able to push the footage as far as I needed to. To be honest it stood up even better than expected; we put the camera through some challenging exposure situations and it handled them all admirably: with plenty of detail in the highlights and little to no noise in the blacks, in fact other than some rolling shutter artefacting (a side effect of shooting in 50fps with a 90 degree shutter) it was pretty much perfect. The only lens I used was the Canon L-Series 24-70 F2.8, which I think works great on this camera with the Metabones E-EF adaptor. The whole package was provided generously by Location Equipment Pty Ltd.

Whilst going through the whole project I always kept myself aware, in the back of my mind, of the aesthetic of the band's other music videos. Trying to keep as close to that as possible whilst injecting an element of my own style into the music. One indispensable tool in making this happen was Red Giant's Magic Bullet Looks plugin. I've been aware of this plugin for a while, but have never had really dabbled in its glory. Well I am now a convert, whilst I am definitely a fan of creating my looks in camera as much as possible, sometimes it is just not possible, especially with the shooting style I adopted for this project. The use of this software injected a great deal of production value into the clip and really made it sing! So, expect all my future projects to feature anamorphic flares!

Well I think that's enough chinwagging for one day. I think it's time to show the video, and let it speak for itself. I hope you like it, despite the speed in which it was put together I think it has come together really well and whether or not it wins the competition I feel my team and I have put something together that we can all be proud of.

Light is Magnetic - Music Video Shoot by Luke Griffiths

If you've looked through the other work I have done, you might notice one name that keeps popping up: Melinda Tupling. A frequent collaborator of mine, Mel and I have worked on many, many very cool projects together, however this latest project might be the coolest we've worked on. It is a dreamy little music video for solo artist, and friend of Mel's: Kat, and her song 'Light is Magnetic.'

The modus operandi for this music video was dreamy and surreal so I went back to a technique that I've always loved: slow motion syncing. Making use of the Sony FS700's (provided by Location Equipment) slow and quick mode I filmed the majority of the music video at 50fps. This worked really well when we went down to the Rockingham Salt Lakes and found ourselves in a roaring easterly. Kat's hair and dress rippled in the wind, which looked great at half speed especially when we planned the shots so that her words would stay in sync with the original song. In order to keep Kat's vocals in sync we played the music back at double speed, which meant that when I eventually edit the piece her mouth movements should match the speed of the song.

Later in the day we travelled back to Perth for the second part of our shoot. Setting up shop in an empty room at Mel's house. With this part we created a really cool look by mashing together a number of cool techniques such projecting images onto translucent scrim while Kat stood behind it lit by a strong back light and a form of moving light source called a "dream machine". This all looked very cool, but one happy accident that occurred was when Kat moved out of the way of the strong back light I'd set up it would catch on the scrim and create this really cool looking flares.

In terms of lenses I made use of the Canon 16-35mm, and 24-70mm L-Series F2.8 Zooms, with the Metabones E to EF Adaptor. These lenses are a great complement to the FS700 because they look great, have a consistent F-Stop throughout the zoom range and are nice and light compared to their PL Mount cousins that I'm used to using with this camera. One problem I have with the FS700 is that every time you go into a menu, or change a setting, the Slow and Quick would automatically turn off, which meant there may have been a take or two that I didn't actually shoot in slow motion like I'd have wanted to.

Overall this shoot was a great one. Stripped back, fast and creative; just how I like it!